Death comes as a reminder. It grabs us and shakes us. Opens our eyes and our focus is changed – shifted, revised.
– Chris Evans, Playing it Cool (2014)
I’m writing today with a bit of a heavy heart, in honor of my grandma. As some of you may know, I moved back home to be her full-time caregiver as she struggled with end-of-life dementia and congestive heart failure. She passed peacefully on May 7, 2018, surrounded by loved ones. She made an incredible impact on so many people throughout her life, and I feel greatly honored to have been a part of it as her “bonus” grandchild for the last 12 years.
About a month before she passed, she said something profound to me that really made me think. She looked me in the eyes and told me “Everyone writes a story with their life. What’s your story going to be?”
My… my story? What does that mean?
We live under this insane impression that our lives are just happening to us, and we have pretty much no control over them.
That being said, I understand lots of things that happen in life are out of our control. It’s inevitable, really. From natural disasters, diseases, or traumatic experiences to simply bad decisions (I’m extremely familiar with the latter). While you can’t necessarily stop those things from happening to you (unless we’re talking about bad decisions – please learn from and prevent them whenever possible), you can control how they’re going to affect you. How they’re going to change/impact your story – negatively, positively, or even both.
I suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, and PTSD. I’m a survivor of both child and early adulthood trauma, abuse and neglect. The list goes on and on and on and on. I feel like I’m constantly making bad decision after bad decision and not even realizing that until it’s too late. I feel completely and utterly behind where I “should be” at this point in my life. To the naked eye, I’m honestly a disaster. I’m unstable. I’m medicated. I’m unpredictable. I’m broken. I’m impulsive. I’m irresponsible. I’m crazy.
But here’s the AMAZING thing about all of that. This is my journey. These are my experiences. And this is my story. Every unpredictable, broken, and crazy piece of it. It’s mine in its entirety and it is beautiful.
Whatever you’re going through, whoever you’re dealing with, no matter how flawed you feel you are, you and your story are both amazing and completely yours! The things that have happened in your life do not define you. Other peoples’ opinions of you – their labels – don’t define you. Stigma does not define you. Hell, your medical diagnosis does not define you.
You are the author of your life. You are the author of your own story.
So, the question I have for you today is this: What’s your story going to be?